It is true. The binkis are supposed to be on the bed, as a general rule. But I am in the bathroom, giving the 5-week-old a bath. Even if this WAS an emergency, I could not attend to it. It will have to wait, so I gave the standard reply, "Well, all you can do is encourage him to do the right thing, Davis. I will take care of the obedience a little later. Thank you!"
And that got me thinking about how important it is to focus attention on the importance of encouragement. ["Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."1 Thes. 5:11] What a valuable skill we can give our kids if we are constantly teaching them and offering examples of how to encourage others. With sibling relationships, this is especially invaluable when you have one child who is a rule-follower, and another child that is a rule-bender. That rule-follower will be compelled to get others to follow rules, too, but the reality is that you can't MAKE others follow the rules. All you can do is encourage them. Humbly encourage them.
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction." 2 Tim. 4:2
To teach my kids how to encourage each other, it takes some thought. I have to be an encourager. They need to hear me encourage them, and their siblings. And when opportunity arises (i.e. they are tattling), I need to be prepared to help them think up words they can say to encourage: "You might get in trouble if you keep jumping on the couch, Weston." "Mommy said we can't have a cookie. We better do the right thing and not take one." "I put my socks and shoes on, like Mom asked. Aren't you going to, too?"
I think this helps give a bossy kid an outlet. Seems like a bossy child is really a leader in disguise...one who likes to be in control of situations. And a bossy kid needs to learn and understand that ultimately their peers makes their own choices - right or wrong. They will choose to do the right thing, or do the wrong thing. To follow the leader or make their own way. To play cars or to read a book. What I really like about focusing on encouragement is that it teaches my control freak that his brother's actions are not his responsibility. All he can do is encourage and do the right thing himself - regardless of his brother's choice. It is not his job to make sure brother does the right thing. That is between the offender and Mom. And later it will be between the offender and God.
This is the freedom God affords us. We have a world of choices to make, and a miriade of influences on us when we make those choices. The Lord desires for us to do the right thing. But ultimately he allows us to sit in our poo, if that is what we choose. But it is when we are surrounded by the muck we put ourselves in that we tend to learn the most.
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Heb. 3:13
Tattling is not all bad, of course. Golly, sometimes that tattler's information is downright critical for a busy mom with "active" kids. Part of training a child to encourage is to also teach them discernment... there are times, like when safety is at risk, when only tattling is called for: "Weston is trying to feed the baby a marble!!" Thank you, child, for not quietly encouraging him to do the right thing and walking away. Tattle, Tattle, Tattle!! But binki's not making it on the bed? Not so much.